June 2015 Newsletter
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June's News from Bookbag Towers
Hi, hello and how the devil are you?
The days are getting long and for us here at Bookbag, it means the evenings are perfect for reading. Hopefully you feel the same and hopefully this newsletter will give you some ideas about what to read next.
So, what's been going on in the book world? Well, there's been a flurry of laureate-related news.
Firstly, the redoubtable Chris Riddell has taken over from the equally redoubtable Malorie Blackman as the new Children's Laureate. Hooray! We love Chris. He says he wants to put visual literacy front and centre during his tenure and he'd love to see children drawing every day. So would we. Good luck, Chris.
And, across the Pond, Juan Felipe Herrera is to become the United States's first ever Latino poet laureate.He says I’m here for everyone and from everyone. My voice is made by everyone’s voices, and we think that's a wonderful sentiment. We wish him the best of luck with the post, too.
What else? Oh, yes! A copy of the latest book in EL James's Ffity Shades series has been stolen ahead of publication. That's not good. But didn't this also happen with a Harry Potter book? And didn't Fifty Shades originate as Harry Potter fan fiction? Blimey. Everything's meta-level these days. You can't escape it. Jus' sayin'.
Have a lovely month's reading, dear subscribers!
This month's golden oldie is Reunion by Fred Uhlman. You may not have heard of it and if you haven't, you're missing out. Hans Schwarz was a Jew and attended the Karl Alexander Gymnasium, the most famous grammar school in Wurttemberg. At sixteen he didn't really have a friend and was slightly apart from the other cliques in his class, until the arrival of Konradin von Hohenfels, the elegantly-dressed son of the aristocracy. For some reason Hans and Konradin became the best of friends and only slowly does it occur to Hans that whilst Konradin is made welcome in his home, Hans can only visit Konradin's home when his parents are absent. This was February 1932 and in the closing years of the Weimar Republic. Sue describes Reunion as exquisite, brave, daring, beautifully written and with a twist which smacks you. First published in 1960 but being reissued by Vintage in July, this is a blast from the past to think about reading!
Books of the Month
And on to to the new... . In fiction, Louise recommends The Silent Hours by Cesca Major. Adeline is an enigma. She has lived in a nunnery ever since her rescue, several years ago. She cannot speak, nor can she remember much about her previous life. She tries desperately to piece together the ephemeral fragments that come to her in fitful dreams. Something has taken everything away. Something so powerful that it has rendered her speechless. Louise says this fictional re-imagining of a real-life tragedy that occurred in an unoccupied French village in World War II is, quite simply, faultless.
And in women's fiction, Zoe loved In The Unlikely Event by Judy Blume. A series of plane crashes spark something deep inside Miri and the other residents of a small New Jersey town. How many planes have to crash, before people take notice? How often can an unlikely event occur before you have to stop calling it that? How horrible do things have to get before the adults are willing to talk to the children about their fears, their theories, their understanding of it all, rather than just glossing over the details? As ever, the way Blume makes her points is outstanding.
In non-fiction, Zoe is raving about Cakes, Custard and Category Theory: Easy recipes for understanding complex maths by Eugenia Cheng. Cheng is a professor of maths and a lover of cake. If you’re wondering how those two things could ever intersect, it’s quite easy. And the result, the middle of the Venn diagram, if you will, is this book which makes maths fun, meaningful and relatively easy to digest. Whatever your preconceived notions on the subject, this brilliant book will leave you thinking maths can be as easy as pi. And yes, Zoe is our queen of puns!
For teens, Jill loved Silver Skin by Joan Lennon. It's a refreshingly original story about a boy from the future who finds himself stuck in Neolithic Skara Brae after a failed attempt at time travelling. Joan Lennon never lets her readers down and she doesn't come anywhere near it here. Silver Skin is original. It's interesting. It's imaginative. It's beautifully written. The plot is compelling. And it mixes science and the supernatural to great effect. So you don't want to miss it!
We're always on the look out for people to join our panel of reviewers at Bookbag. We need people who understand that the reader wants to know what the reviewer thinks about the book and not just what's written on the back cover. If you think that you're one of these special people that we're looking for, we want to hear from you. You can find details of how to apply here on the site. Don't be shy!
We have competitions for some great books going this month, and every month, so get entering!
And that's about it for this month. If you're passing Bookbag Towers do pop in and see us – we're at www.thebookbag.co.uk.
All at Bookbag Towers
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